- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

From combined dispatches

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas grand jury yesterday indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on charges of money laundering as prosecutors tried to correct problems with an earlier charge against him.

Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, stepped down as House majority leader last week after a grand jury indictment accused him of conspiring to violate state campaign-finance laws by using banned corporate funds in Texas elections.

However, attorneys for Mr. DeLay yesterday argued the charge was not valid since the purported offense took place in 2002 and the state Legislature didn’t change the law to include a conspiracy statute until 2003.

A new Travis County grand jury, which met for the first time yesterday, indicted Mr. DeLay on a charge of money laundering related to the same set of actions. The charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

The new indictment came hours after Mr. DeLay’s attorneys filed a request to dismiss the case, causing DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden to accuse Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle of having “panicked.”

Mr. DeLay called it a legal “do-over.”

“He knows very well that the charges he brought against me last week are totally manufactured and illegitimate,” the lawmaker said. “This is an abomination of justice.”

Mr. Earle’s office did not return repeated phone calls from the Associated Press.

Both indictments say the DeLay-founded Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee accepted corporate funds — illegal for use in a Texas state campaign — to give to the Republican National Committee, which then distributed a similar amount to a list of Texas candidates provided by the PAC.

Stuart Roy, Mr. DeLay’s former spokesman and now a political strategist, said the new indictment is an embarrassment to Mr. Earle.

“The judicial incompetence and political hatred that Ronnie Earle showed today demonstrates that Texans did not elect their best and brightest to the position of Travis County DA,” he told The Washington Times. “Ronnie Earle may truly be the Elmer Fudd of politics.”

Mr. DeLay’s office also sent out a press release quoting Mr. Earle from a press conference last week, when he was asked whether he sought money laundering charges from the first grand jury.

“The grand jury returned the indictments that the grand jurors felt were appropriate to the evidence that was presented in this case,” Mr. Earle said Wednesday.

Mr. DeLay’s office said this proved Mr. Earle is engaging in “prosecutorial abuse.”

“A grand jury [impaneled] for six months decided that there was no money laundering, and yet on Day One, a new grand jury found what the other grand jury couldn’t find in six months?” the statement said.

But Democrats treated the new indictment as evidence of mounting problems for Mr. DeLay.

“I hope this development will light a fire under the ethics committee and inspire them to take action so that Mr. DeLay and other members of Congress are held fully accountable for their unethical behavior,” said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and ranking member of the House Rules Committee.

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